Community Celebrates New Kid-Designed Harlem Playground (NYC)

Harlem, New York, 9/19/2008: A vibrant, new community playground designed by elementary school students was inaugurated Saturday, September 20, 2008 at 10:00 A.M. at Central Park East, 1573 Madison Avenue at 106th Street. This space, formerly a barren asphalt lot, has been transformed into a new community playground with help from The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a dedicated student and community design team, and funding from Credit Suisse and its Alternative Investments business, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, and the City of New York.

The $1.37 million new community playground includes a track and field area, play equipment, a play spray water feature, trees, game tables, benches, and areas for both basketball and tennis, all of which will be unveiled at the community celebration sponsored by Credit Suisse.

“This is our biggest playground celebration yet,” said Rose Harvey, Senior Vice President of The Trust for Public Land. “Hundreds of students and community members will celebrate with us as we dedicate this wonderful new playground that offers so much more than what was there before.”

The Trust for Public Land worked with students, the East Harlem Tutorial Program and community members to design the new playground to better serve the needs of the children and community members.

The playground is one of five that has been sponsored by Credit Suisse, which contributed funds from the Credit Suisse Americas Foundation, but also rallied staff in support of the effort, ultimately resulting in nearly 4,000 employees contributing. The end result was a gift from Credit Suisse of $1.66 million to The Trust for Public Land to fund the five playgrounds, located in Harlem, Washington Heights, Hunt’s Point, Bensonhurst, and Crown Heights.

“We are proud both as individuals and as employees of Credit Suisse to be part of this extraordinarily successful partnership,” said George Hornig, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Alternative Investments and Co-COO of Asset Management at Credit Suisse. “Our staff feels personally invested because they gave from their own resources and time to help make this happen.”

In 2004, Credit Suisse added a charity element to be incorporated into company holiday parties. During its first campaign for TPL in 2006, three divisions raised enough to build one New York City playground through employee donations and a $1.5 to $1 match from the Foundation. This past holiday season, TPL was the sole recipient of Credit Suisse’s fundraising, which saw all New York City Credit Suisse business units participate in the partnership. This new approach resulted in a 63 percent increase in giving. Credit Suisse is the only financial services firm that structures its holiday celebrations to ensure that local communities also benefit.

“The impact of the generosity of Credit Suisse and its employees is that thousands of children now have a close to home place where they can exercise both mind and muscles,” said Harvey.

Critical public funds totaling $635,000 were provided through Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer’s office.

The Trust for Public Land has created 30 community playgrounds throughout New York City. In partnership with the city’s PlaNYC initiative, TPL is now working to transform 185 schoolyards with playgrounds by 2010. The Trust for Public Land conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. TPL has created or enhanced more than 250 neighborhood parks in New York City, investing roughly $200 million in land purchases and in the design, construction and stewardship of parks.